This week in data advocacy


A number of bills and advocacy efforts related to public and open data have been in the news in the past week.

  • Three years in the making, some have called the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) the most significant open-government legislation since the Freedom of Information Act in 1966. The new law would require the federal government to automate, standardize, and publish its myriad financial management, procurement, and related data in electronic formats that can be easily accessed and analyzed by interested parties in the public and private sectors.
  • In Maryland, the new Council on Open Data was created by SB644 designed to make more of Maryland’s government data more available and searchable to everyone. The new law creates a 37-member council that includes all the cabinet secretaries and other departments of state government. It is headed by the secretary of Information Technology. The legislation with some amendments had the strong support of the O’Malley administration and good government organizations such as Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the Sunlight Foundation.
  • The California State Senate is taking up legislation that would restrict how information gathered by automated license plate recognition systems is shared and sold, while at the same time making the data more accessible to law enforcement. Senate Bill 893 refers to the use of data generated by automated license plate readers and highlights the increasing use of cutting-edge technology to collect personal information.
  • Legislation proposed in Missouri would wall off the public from data collected by state agencies under the federal Animal Disease Traceability Program. “Transparency about the food we eat seems to be in the public interest. We would urge legislators to keep this information open,” writes the Joplin Globe in an editorial.
  • At the local level, New York City had formerly introduced a bill that would have pushed Ray Kelly’s police department one step closer to opening up crash data. That bill has been reintroduced by Council Member Brad Lander. But with new leadership, NYPD is dropping hints that it will release better public data soon. Advocates say Lander’s bill could use some upgrades to help the public get more out of NYPD’s crash data.